In the early ’70s, my aunt Mary Ellen sent my mother a brownie recipe, which our family quickly adopted as a standard. No family gathering is complete without a batch of brownies; we go straight for the corners, discuss whether pecans or walnuts are a better addition, and fight over who ate more than his fair share (and SOMEbody always hogs the brownies). My sister isn’t above hiding a few from her family….
Mixed in saucepan on the stovetop, the recipe is easy enough for a kid to produce, unassisted. It takes longer for the oven to reach 350 than it does to make the brownie batter. Slightly cakey, these brownies taste boldly of cocoa powder, so use the good stuff (not dutch-processed, though–it is too mild). Here’s my version of the recipe; it also appears on page 228 of Down the Bayou, the community cookbook produced by the Bayou Civic Club in Larose.
Aunt Mary Ellen’s brownies
1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter
2 cups sugar (pure cane, of course)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup pecans, coarsely broken (use other nuts if desired)
Melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder, blending well. Add eggs and vanilla; beat by hand thoroughly until well-blended. Add flour, stirring slowly to combine. When all flour is mixed in, stir in nuts. Pour into a greased 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Eat a bunch while they’re still warm, and give some to the neighbors. Save the corners for people you really like. Gild the lily–dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar, or press the bottoms in granulated sugar, or frost the tops with chocolate icing. Plain is fine with me, though.